POSTED ON OCTOBER 28, 2009:
Basketball team might have the right mix to make it to the top of Conference USA
Go Hard or Go Home. TUís team goals are simple this year: March Madness or bust. The Memphis Tigers fall from grace gives hope to the cause. The Reynolds Center is headquarters, and Coach Doug Wojcik keeps them focused.
Batman and Robin donned tights, and they fought evildoers in Gotham City. The Batcave served as headquarters. Alfred the butler kept them updated on the latest happenings.
The University of Tulsa's basketball team also boasts a couple of superheroes.
Jerome Jordan and Ben Uzoh wore tights for a Halloween-themed viral video campaign. They join forces to battle the evil Memphis basketball power. The Reynolds Center is headquarters, and Coach Doug Wojcik keeps them focused.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Your official 2009-10 Golden Hurricane basketball preview is underway. Yes, basketball season is upon us.
Make no mistake about it. This version of TU basketball will go as far as Jordan and Uzoh take them. First, we'll look at the other important pieces of the justice league.
Senior forward Bishop Wheatley (6'6", 220 pounds) is the elixir. While scoring is not his strong suit, he has the ability to lead the team in energetic plays. He led the squad in steals on four different occasions a year ago.
Wheatley brings a certain level of toughness to the court. He needs to remain healthy for the Golden Hurricane to reach that elusive next level.
Coach Wojcik praised big man Steven Idlet (6'10", 240 pounds). He played in all 34 contests during the past season but only averaged 12.6 minutes per contest. When All-Conference USA center Jerome Jordan needs a breather, Idlet maintains a presence in the paint. He led the team in blocks six times last year.
Idlet is only a sophomore, so Tulsans can expect to see him patrol the inside for a couple of more seasons. Solid big men are hard to come by in college basketball. Coach Wojcik appears to have two on his roster.
Joe Richard (6'7", 235 pounds) could play for Coach Todd Graham on the football team. He's built like a tight end or defensive end. He passes the scouts' eyeball test with flying colors.
This is his second year in the system. His wide body allows him to battle around the goal. He needs to add a few moves to his offensive repertoire, though.
A seven-foot post player causes match up problems for every opponent. The typical tactic is to double team the big man after the entry pass. Jerome Jordan will get double teamed. Who is ready to knock down the open looks?
Perhaps Justin Hurtt (6'4" 200 pounds) is the guy. The junior guard focused on getting his shot off against defenders during the summer. He also understood the weakness of the team for the past several years: ball handling.
"I felt like I needed to work on my ball handling a little more," Hurtt said. "Just my all around game. I felt like I did that. I've gotten better for this year."
He utilized summer pick-up games to focus on getting his shot off. He realizes the opportunities will come with the opponent focused on the Dynamic Duo.
And we come full circle to our main characters: Ben Uzoh (6'3" 205 pounds) and Jerome Jordan (7' 251 pounds).
Coach Wojcik has said many times that Uzoh has been his best player since the day he walked on campus. The senior averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his first three seasons.
The playmaker holds a physical advantage over most point guards in C-USA. He's a two-time C-USA second-team selection. His shooting percentages dipped a season ago. He was also asked to carry more of the ball handling burden.
Newcomer Donte Medder (6'1" 199 pounds) is the first true point guard Coach Wojcik has had at TU. While expectations should be limited for the incoming freshman, it is obvious they hope he contributes right away. This would allow Uzoh to conserve energy for scoring rather than bringing the ball up the court.
Basketball purists would start a team with either point guard or big man. Does TU finally have the right mix?
Standing tall on the inside is Jamaican-born Jerome Jordan. When he arrived on campus his height was all he had going for him. His lanky frame has since filled out.
"It's been a great process. From watching film when I first got here, now I can see changes in my body and my game," he said of the maturation process. "It's been really fun."
Jordan led the team in rebounds and blocks during last season. His averages during conference play were robust: 17.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
The only complaint lobbied at Jordan is a perceived lack of passion. His jovial demeanor lends itself to questioning his motivation on the court.
To rectify the situation, his pre-game routine should include watching Rocky or Cool Runnings.
The team's goals are simple this year: March Madness or bust. The Memphis Tigers fall from grace gives hope to the cause.
Can TU take over the top spot for C-USA?
"We could win a whole bunch of games and still not get in," Jordan said. "If we win it will be good. If we don't, it might be a little bit disappointing but we might still have a good season."
He understands the NCAA postseason process. The only guarantee for non-BCS schools is winning the conference tournament.
At least the tournament will be held at the BOK Center this year. The place should be rocking, and the team needs all the help they can get in the do-or-die games.
Tickets are on sale for the March 10-13 C-USA tournament. Visit bokcenter.com for C-USA tickets (along with many other acts).
The Golden Hurricane quest for legitimate postseason play gets underway Nov. 9. Visit tulsahurricane.com for ticket information and schedule.
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